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Day Trip 8 May 2019

Four hours were good enough for a quick tour of major sites in the city.

I had about eight hours between connecting flights on a trip that took me through 10 airports: HKG–ICN–SEA–SLC–MSO–SLC–BOS–ATL–ICN–HKG.

Key was planning in advance for the stop between connecting flight in Incheon international airport: comfortable running shoes, map, & route.

  • Exit the airport directly from the plan. Do not enter the transit area. Otherwise, an airline escort would be required to exit.
  • Credit card was accepted at train station. Purchase express train ticket along with transfer to final subway station. Express train cost was KR₩9,500 or US$7.95.

I sprinted out of the plane toward the express train for the 45 minute ride to Seoul station. I transferred to the local subway to reach City Hall station near Deoksugung grand palace: painted wood, fountain, & museum.

Deoksugung grand palace, painted wood, fountain, & museum
Location 37.5655ºN, 126.9758ºE

All palaces had an entrance fee KR₩1,000–5,000, depending on the site.

Next was Gyeongbokgung royal palace: the largest of five grand palaces in Seoul, built 1395. Guards were practicing some defence art:

Guards training at Gyeongbokgung royal palace, the largest of five grand palaces in Seoul, built 1395
Location 37.5767ºN, 126.9778ºE

I walked fast or ran between sites until I reached the narrow streets, art shops, & traditional homes of Bukchon Hanok Village.

There were many restaurants to choose from, but was not hungry, nor had much time for a meal. Instead, there was an art shop with hand painted post cards:

Narrow streets, art shops, & traditional homes of Bukchon Hanok Village
Location 37.582015ºN, 126.986866ºE

Changdeokgung palace, UNESCO World Heritage, was next with its large ground & garden.

Changdeokgung palace, UNESCO World Heritage
Location 37.5794ºN, 126.9922ºE

Buddha’s Birthday was just a few days away. Festival, food, & lanterns near Jogyesa temple:

Buddha's Birthday festival, food, & lanterns
Location 37.573745ºN, 126.982292ºE

Finally, it was the long climb on stairs to N Seoul Tower in Namsa park:

Stair climb to N Seoul tower at end of walking tour

Millions of Shiny Love locks were there: on rails, posts, more rails, & dedicated trees:

Plenty of Shiny Love locks by N Seoul Tower
Location 37.5514ºN, 126.9884ºE

I made my way back to Seoul train station, express train to airport, shower, dinner, & sleep on flight to Seattle.


Log data as recorded by Garmin Fēnix 5. Posted on Strava. Download KML for map app.

  • ➡️ distance 14.88km
  • 🔄 duration 3:54’49
  • ⏩ pace 15’47
  • ⬆️ ascent 392m
  • ⬇️ descent 379m
  • *️⃣ calories 809
  • 📶 temperature 23.5ºC


A few days before the trip, I marked points of interest from Lonely Planet Seoul city guide on my world travel map. No hotels or food stops. I only had a few hours in town to run between the sites.


I checked for other ideas in the Essential Seoul City Guide from Going the Whole Hogg.



Trip report 13–21 April 2019

Hà Nội was our base while we visited sites near it. The region offered enough variety of scenery, experience, nature, & history. We could have actually spent two weeks in northern Vietnam alone. Visiting the entire country could easily take 3–4 weeks.

Temple of the Jade Mountain
Location 21.030811ºN, 105.852547ºE


There was no shortage of travel agencies, hotels, street vendors, or restaurants to sell you trips. Our main guide about the regions to visit, points of interests, & other choices was Lonely Planet book.


Vega Travel organised the trip to Hạ Long Bay for three days. Hanoi Guest House arranged two other day trips to Ninh Bình & Mai Châu. All were pleasant at reasonable price.

Vega even helped with visa invitation letter with less than 24 hours notice before our flight.

Hà Nội

This is how the conversation went:

Me: Does the train run on these tracks?
Officer: Yes
Me: But there are people walking on them.
Officer: No problem.

Rail-to-trail Hanoi style
Location 21.030694ºN, 105.844620ºE

This scene of people near & on the tracks went on for some time, probably close to 500m. The tracks continued over the scenic Long Biên bridge for 2.3km over the Red River, designed by Gustave Eiffel. A couple & wedding party were taking pictures partway through the bridge, on the tracks, with potentially active train on them.

Walking through narrow streets between motorcycles, we reached an American War Memorial on Hồ Trúc Bạch, capture site for John Sydney McCain.

Across from it is Chùa Trấn Quốc—one of the oldest pagodas in Vietnam:

Chùa Trấn Quốc: one of the oldest pagodas in Vietnam
Location 21.047808ºN, 105.837120ºE

We walked through Hanoi Botanical Garden to reach Hồ Chí Minh museum. It was closed. Instead, stopped at One Pillar Pagoda.

We rested & played with puzzle book for a while at Quốc Tử Giám park next to the Temple of Literature. Built in 1070, it hosts Imperial Academy, Vietnam’s first national university. There are many preserved stelae of carved blue stone turtles, symbol of longevity and wisdom. They honour exceptional university graduates.

Stelea of carved blue stone turtles, symbol of longevity and wisdom, at Temple of Literature
Location 21.029006ºN, 105.835822ºE

Just outside are plenty of tourist shops, cafés, & street vendors. Craft Link, a non-profit organisation, had a corner store of sơn mài lacquered bamboo in gleaming bright colours:

Sơn mài lacquered bamboo in gleaming bright colours
Location 21.027917ºN, 105.836136ºE

Several days later after tours outside Hà Nội, we returned to visit a few more sites, mainly around Hoàn Kiếm Lake.

Path around the lake was pleasant to walk. Several Earth Day exhibits were on display. St Joseph’s Cathedral was nearby. The shops & restaurants had large variety of options, clear presentation, & quality products.

Until it was time for Water Puppet Theatre music, dance, & fireworks:

Water Puppet Theatre, music, dance, & firewroks
Location 21.031690ºN, 105.853347ºE

We made it back just in time for chocolate hour (or dinner for some of us) at Mövenpick hotel:

Location 21.025101ºN, 105.844034ºE

Ninh Bình

Bus arrived promptly at 7:30 per arrangement by hotel staff through agreement with Rubicon Tours. Travel was about two hours each way in comfortable bus. Activities, equipment, & food were very good.

Four tourists & one guide sat in each boat. The guide started paddling at first until we noticed extra paddles in the boat. We decided to help race some other boats:

Paddling rivers & temples of Ninh Bình
Location 20.256787ºN, 105.910888ºE

When the path seemed to hit a dead end, it turned out to be a cave—a very long cave:

Paddling through caves of Ninh Bình

We continued inside for some time, exited, entered another cave, then stopped to visit a temple. Near it was the set from recent King Kong movie.

After lunch, we selected bicycles: single speed, any size works, breaks almost work, & no helmet. We went on a temples tour:

Gravel bicycle tour of Ninh Bình temples
Location 20.222922ºN, 105.934508ºE

Chùa Bích Động carved in stone by mountain side:

Chùa Bích Động carved in stone by mountain side
Location 20.217997ºN, 105.916292ºE

Mai Châu

This was a long trip worth extending to two days. It was four hours each direction, with just about three hours to visit.

It seemed like the entire trip was in fog until we descended into the valley for clear views of rice fields & surrounding mountains:

Rice fields of Mai Châu: getting ready for first harvest
Location 20.6746ºN, 105.0732ºE

We ate generous portions of local food for lunch, then hopped on bicycles for a tour of village, houses on stilts, & crafts market.

Hạ Long Bay

Trip was for three days to two bays:

  1. First night sleeping on a boat in Hạ Long bay: very busy area with most tourists there.
  2. Second night in Cát Bà bay hotel: more quiet, few boats, more pristine nature.

Once in Hạ Long bay, we went on a kayak tour & swim with jellyfish:

Hạ Long bay swim with jellyfish
Location 20.837263ºN, 107.110039ºE

Bedrooms on boat had comfortable beds, hot shower, & open views to the bay.

We got up early next morning to beat crowd to Surprise Cave & peak of Ti Tốp island—named after the Russian Cosmonaut Gherman Titov.

We stopped shortly before Cát Bà for a bicycle tour to Việt Hải village, hike, & lunch:

Việt Hải village #bicycle tour, hike, & lunch
Location 20.7831ºN, 107.0592ºE

Evening finished at local beer garden, street food, & live music in Cát Bà:

Local beer garden, street food, & live music in Cát Bà
Location 20.726442ºN, 107.046106ºE

Wilson Trail

Hike Report: 23 February 2019

Remote & wild, we passed by very few supply shops for food & water. Later in the day as it got darker, we ran by hungry wild cows, boar, macaques, & dogs. That was only one half of Wilson trail: sections 10–6.

A week later we ran the remaining sections 5–1 to finish with a swim in Stanley beach & dim sum dinner.

This is one of four long distance trails in Hong Kong. The other three are:

  • Hong Kong: meander across the Hong Kong island between Victoria Peak & Big Wave beach.
  • Lantau: loop around Lantau Island. Detailed report coming soon.
  • MacLehose: including climb to the highest peak in Hong Kong. I have not attempted any sections of this trail yet. More soon.

Route Log

We ran the entire trail over two days:

  • Day 1: sections 10–6 on Saturday 23 February 2019 9:25
Wilson trail run sections 10–6: wild cows, boar, macaques, & dogs

Day 2: sections 5–1 on Sunday 3 March 2019 8:21

Swim in Stanley beach & dim sum dinner after Wilson trail run sections 5–1

Log data as recorded by Garmin Fēnix 5.

MeasurementDay 1Day 2Total
MapGarmin, Suunto, & StravaGarmin, Suunto, & StravaN/A
➡️ distance43.75km41.31km85.06km
🔄 duration9:19’289:04’5918:24’27
⏩ pace12’4713’1212’59
⬆️ ascent2,336m2,102m4,438m
⬇️ descent2,207m2,258m4,465m
*️⃣ calories3,6783,2246,902
📶 temperature19.7ºC26.0ºC22.8ºC


David Wilson was the 27th Governor of Hong Kong from 1987 to 1992. The Wilson Trail was initiated by Lord Wilson for the Hong Kong public opened on the 21st Day of January 1996:

The Wilson Trail initiated by Lord Wilson for the Hong Kong public opened on the 21st Day of January 1996

Just about every time I attempted to run sections of this trail, they were north to south:

  • Trail was remote far north, with fewer options for public transport. I preferred to wait for the bus before the run when I am still rested & dry, rather than at the end when tired & sweaty.
  • Quicker return home: running south from a northern point often got me home faster.
  • Option for a swim at southern terminus by Stanley beach.

All four major trails in Hong Kong have distance markers every 500m. The actual distance varies for each trail. Wilson has 138 of them in 10 sections: south W000 to north W137.

Northern terminus of Wilson trail: constructed for the people of Hong Kong by the friends of the country parks
Location 22.5138ºN, 114.2093ºE

After running past 370 distance markers, with multiple GPS watches, I measured the average distances between them at 554m.

Sections 10–8

Trail started far north of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, near the border with mainland China. In fact, mobile phones switched into roaming with signals from China.

The trail climbed quickly to Sir Edward Youde memorial pavilion looking into mainland China:

Sir Edward Youde memorial pavilion on #run Wilson trail 10–9

Sections 10–8 required a commitment to hike an extended distance with proper gear, food, & water. There was no easy exit at least until end of section 9 at Hok Tau reservoir—maybe why there was an emergency phone just before climb to long exposed ridge:

Emergency phone on trail
Location 22.489620ºN ,114.234917ºE

First peak looking at remaining eight on ridge walk:

First peak of eight on ridge walk: Wilson Trail section 9
Location 22.485053ºN, 114.234055ºE

The other side overlooked Tai Po in New Territories region of Hong Kong:

Tai Po in New Territories of Hong Kong on #hike Wilson trail section 9
Location 22.485203ºN, 114.232505ºE

I took many pictures along the ridge walk. Only later that I realised this picture was of Avalokiteśvara (Guan Yin) statue at Tsz Shan Monastery:

Avalokiteśvara (Guan Yin) statue at Tsz Shan Monastery
Location 22.490233ºN, 114.212425ºE

The sun was setting with several hours still remain on the trail. This sign did not help: Warning—The footpath ahead is treacherous, obscured or seasonally overgrown. For safety reasons, you are advised not to proceed.

Warning—The footpath ahead is treacherous, obscured or seasonally overgrown. For safety reasons, you are advised not to proceed.
Location 22.487647ºN, 114.223ºE

Then it was getting really dark:

Run into sunset on Wilson trail section 9
Location 22.490308ºN ,114.210495ºE

Attempted to continue hike into evening under full moon light:

Continue hike into evening under full moon light
Location 22.492425ºN, 114.202530ºE

Finally it was time to quit:

  • Log data as recorded by Suunto Spartan on 22 September 2018 at 15:09. Map from Suunto & Strava.
  • ➡️ distance 18.45km
  • 🔄 duration 4:38’39.3
  • ⏩ pace 15’06
  • ⬆️ ascent 956m
  • ⬇️ descent 932m
  • *️⃣ calories 2,371
Time to quit Wilson trail hike—getting too dark on trail
Location 22.493033ºN, 114.200592ºE

I attempted the three sections again starting early:

  • Log data as recorded by Garmin Fēnix 5 on 19 January 2019 at 9:25. Map from Garmin, Suunto & Strava.
  • ➡️ distance 24.38km
  • 🔄 duration 7:25’22
  • ⏩ pace 18’06
  • ⬆️ ascent 1,427m
  • ⬇️ descent 1,390m
  • *️⃣ calories 2,160
  • 📶 temperature 24.4℃

Mövenpick: the art of Swiss ice cream with vanilla dream & almond was the reward:

Mövenpick: the art of Swiss ice cream with vanilla dream & almond, post #hike Wilson trail sections 10–8

Sections 8–3

These were run almost one section at a time during quick breaks or after work.

This run was on a short distance of section 8 with easy access between Tai Po Market & Tai Wo MTR stations:

  • Log data as recorded by Garmin Fēnix 5 on 9 June 2018 at 12:57. Map from Garmin & Strava.
  • ➡️ distance 4.37km
  • 🔄 duration 51’55
  • ⏩ pace 11’53
  • ⬆️ ascent 172m
  • ⬇️ descent 228m
  • *️⃣ calories 270
  • 📶 temperature 28.6℃
Rest stop on Wilson trail #hike section 8

Section 6 was flat along Shing Mun reservoir before climbing to Lead Mine Pass on section 7:

  • Log data as recorded by Garmin Fēnix 5 on 3 June 2018 at 13:05. Map from Garmin & Strava.
  • ➡️ distance 15.52km
  • 🔄 duration 2:57’52
  • ⏩ pace 11’28
  • ⬆️ ascent 577m
  • ⬇️ descent 608m
  • *️⃣ calories 1,219
  • 📶 temperature 31.7℃
Shing Mun reservoir on Wilson trail section 7
Location 22.380888ºN, 114.148103ºE

Section 5 was my first encounter with macaques. The rule was to not have any shiny or loose objects. They could mistake them for food & snatch them forcefully at speed. It was a mistake to have the phone out for picture:

  • Log data as recorded by Garmin Fēnix 5 on 2 June 2018 at 15:16. Map from Garmin & Strava.
  • ➡️ distance 10.96km
  • 🔄 duration 1:20’36
  • ⏩ pace 7’21
  • ⬆️ ascent 306m
  • ⬇️ descent 184m
  • *️⃣ calories 865
  • 📶 temperature 32.2℃
Macaques on Wilson Trail #run section 5

Earlier, I had climbed on section 4 for views of Kowloon & glider toy planes soaring with thermal air current:

  • Log data as recorded by Garmin Fēnix 5 on 26 May 2018 at 16:47. Map from Garmin & Strava.
  • ➡️ distance 11.02km
  • 🔄 duration 1:55’50
  • ⏩ pace 10’31
  • ⬆️ ascent 525m
  • ⬇️ descent 694m
  • *️⃣ calories 890
  • 📶 temperature 28.8℃
Glider toy planes soaring with thermal air current on Wilson trail section 4

Section 3 started near Lam Tin & Yau Tong MTR stations, after crossing the harbour from section 2 on Hong Kong island. There were gazebo, benches, views, & of course stairs:

  • Log data as recorded by Garmin Fēnix 5 on 22 May 2018 at 18:20. Map from Garmin & Strava.
  • ➡️ distance 9.27km
  • 🔄 duration 1:19’27
  • ⏩ pace 8’34
  • ⬆️ ascent 352m
  • ⬇️ descent 478m
  • *️⃣ calories 843
  • 📶 temperature 27.5℃
Gazebo, benches, views, & of course stairs on Wilson trail section 3

Sections 2–1

These were the most scenic & most difficult sections: 2,000m elevation change in just 12km. When I first attempted them, I quickly ran out of time, finished in the dark, & missed a swim in Stanley beach:

  • Log data as recorded by Garmin Fēnix 5 on 22 May 2018 at 18:20. Map from Garmin & Strava.
  • ➡️ distance 11.68km
  • 🔄 duration 2:58’31
  • ⏩ pace 15’17
  • ⬆️ ascent 1,006m
  • ⬇️ descent 952m
  • *️⃣ calories 1,643
  • 📶 temperature 27.3℃
Fooled again by seemingly easy Hong Kong run on Wilson Trail

Section 2 ended in Tai Koo MTR station to allow transport across the harbour to start section 3.

Tai Koo MTR station

Signs outside the station showed directions to trail head:

Trail easy access by public transport for one-way travel
Location 22.281178ºN, 114.213662ºE

Train stations & bus stops were everywhere in Hong Kong, with high frequency of service. It was very easy to travel one way on a trail, finish at a road cross, & travel back.

This time, we took the bus to Parkview, at the beginning of section two for a short hike back Tai Koo station. There we had Mövenpick: the art of Swiss ice cream with dulce de leche & macadamia:

  • Log data as recorded by Suunto Spartan on 5 August 2018 at 9:57. Map from Suunto & Strava.
  • ➡️ distance 7.02km
  • 🔄 duration 2:46’38.5
  • ⏩ pace 23’43
  • ⬆️ ascent 447m
  • ⬇️ descent 600m
  • *️⃣ calories 460
Mövenpick: the art of Swiss ice cream with dulce de leche & macadamia post #hike Wilson trail section 2

Section 2 highlight was Jardine’s Lookout view of Victoria Harbour:

Jardine's Lookout on Hong Kong & Wilson trails: view of Victoria Harbour
Location 22.266347ºN, 114.198312ºE

Section 1 climbed over three peaks: Violet hill & the Twins:

Cartilage Carnage club run to Stanley beach

I ran it again with Cartilage Carnage group, this time reaching Stanley beach in time for a swim:

  • Log data as recorded by Suunto Spartan on 19 August 2018 at 5:39. Map from Suunto & Strava.
  • ➡️ distance 12.86km
  • 🔄 duration 2:42’18.0
  • ⏩ pace 12’37
  • ⬆️ ascent 835m
  • ⬇️ descent 827m
  • *️⃣ calories 1,413
Stanley beach water dip
Location 22.222272ºN, 114.214430ºE

Hong Kong Trail

Hike Report: 12 January 2019

Gone blind for a few seconds, almost collapsed from hyperthermia, at the top of Jardine’s Lookout. That was my introduction to the Hong Kong trail a few days after I arrived in May 2018.

I ran the trail again with a team from Manulife office in much cooler temperature on 12 January 2019:

This is one of four long distance trails in Hong Kong. The other three are:

  1. Lantau: loop around Lantau Island. Detailed report coming soon.
  2. MacLehose: including climb to the highest peak in Hong Kong. Detailed report coming soon.
  3. Wilson: south of Hong Kong island to China border. Detailed report coming soon.

Green Power

Green Power Hike is a large-scale annual hiking event, which takes place on Hong Kong Trail every January or February. It integrates environmental elements & encourages participants to take part in green practices together:

  • No bottled drinks are distributed. Participants have to fill water and energy drinks at the stations, using their own water bottles.
  • No Paper Cups
  • Waste recycling facilities are set up at checkpoints.

Those running the entire trail for 50km assembled on Victoria Peak by the tram station at 8:00 for a start at:

Trail started either flat or slightly downhill with open views of the sea:

Location: 22.271908°N, 114.133294°E

Passed by Middle Gap for view of Ocean Park, Middle Island, & South Bay:

Location: 22.256487°N, 114.175842°E

We passed by a foot massage station on large round pebbles:

Location: 22.256725°N, 114.154106°E

This was not the time for it. Possibly another day.

Soon after the half way point, we stopped at check point by Parkview for water, banana, & bread. Steep climbing started. No need for switchbacks. Stairs would do. Lots of steep ones please:

Location: 22.268222°N, 114.205588°E

Jardine’s Lookout was first for view of Victoria Harbour:

Location: 22.266347°N, 114.198312°E

Trail was narrow, crowded, & slow from Parkview. Large group running the 25km distance had just started. Heat & poor air quality did not help:

Until Quarry Gap for check point & plaque to commemorate opening of Hong Kong Trail in April 1985:

Location: 22.266895°N, 114.213263°E

Trail continued long descent to Tai Tam Tuk reservoir on wide paved road. Long stretches of the trail were on hard surface concrete, stone, & pavement to reduce erosion:

Location: 22.260897°N, 114.140678°E

Long stretch was along flat catch water until the climb to Dragon’s Back ridge. From Shek O peak we could see the finish point at Big Wave bay:

Location: 22.235770°N, 114.243767°E

Distance posts on trail were supposed every 500m. After several runs on this trail, I measured the distance to be on average 450m with standard deviation of 50m.

Location: 22.258412°N, 114.191155°E

We finished the day with a dip in the cool water of Big Wave beach & dinner nearby.

Route Log

Official maps of Hong Kong trail available in detail.

Log data as recorded by Garmin Fēnix 5. Map from Garmin, Suunto, & Strava.

  • ➡️ distance 45.38km
  • 🔄 duration 9:34’41
  • ⏩ pace 12’40
  • ⬆️ ascent 1,271m
  • ⬇️ descent 1,638m
  • *️⃣ calories 3,287
  • 📶 temperature 24.3℃


There are many ideas to hike the trail in smaller sections or loops.

Big Wave Beach–Victoria Peak

Entire trail in reverse from distance post H100–H000. This direction climbed all the big hills in the first half: Dragon’s Back, Mount Butler, & Jardine’s Lookout.

On my descent to Parkview, I almost passed out from hyperthermia, going blind for a few seconds. The high humidity does not allow sweat to cool the body. I proceeded carefully, knowing there was a grocery store in Parkview. I stuck my head in the freezer for a few minutes before gulping several bottles of juice.

What remained was mostly flat or gradual incline in plenty of shade. Victoria Peak is 350m above se level from Big Wave beach. That is a net ascent gain for the day.

  • Log data as recorded by Garmin Fēnix 5 on 13 May 2018 at 7:58. Map from Garmin & Strava.
  • ➡️ distance 47.53km
  • 🔄 duration 10:50’19
  • ⏩ pace 13’41
  • ⬆️ ascent 1,689m
  • ⬇️ descent 1,321m
  • *️⃣ calories 4,213
  • 📶 temperature 28.4℃

Quarry Gap–Big Wave Beach

A pleasant day that ended in a splash. We started in Tai Koo MTR station:

We climbed on Mount Parker Road to Quarry Gap. Continued on sections 6–8 all the way Big Wave beach for a swim, never mind the closed beach. Plenty of people were swimming & surfing:

  • Log data as recorded by Suunto Spartan Ultra. Map from Suunto & Strava.
  • ➡️ distance 21.87km
  • 🔄 duration 3:25’36.8
  • ⏩ pace 9’24
  • ⬆️ ascent 597m
  • ⬇️ descent 648m
  • *️⃣ calories 1,824

We walked from there to Shek O for lunch, twice, & tour around the town:

Location: 22.2305°N, 114.2521°E

Quarry Gap Loop

Fitness loop that I repeated multiple times, often early in the morning on weekends. It started from home near Tai Koo train station, climbed on Mount Parker Road to Quarry Gap, descended to Tai Tam Tuk reservoir on Hong Kong trail, climbed to Parkview, climbed to Jardine’s Lookout, & returned to Mount Parker Road on Wilson trail.

  • Log data as recorded by Suunto Spartan Ultra on 15 September 2018 at 5:56. Map from Suunto & Strava.
  • ➡️ distance 13.18km
  • 🔄 duration 2:37’54.3
  • ⏩ pace 11’58
  • ⬆️ ascent 1,330m
  • ⬇️ descent 1,337m
  • *️⃣ calories 1,043

This first run was in early morning:

A few hours before Super Typhoon Mangkhut:

The city & trains were running on schedule by Monday. But damage was visible in some areas, especially on trails:

Bicycle South Africa

We had the complete package on this trip: beautiful lodging, reliable bicycles, excellent food, safe driver, & wonderful itinerary.

Location: 34.357125°S, 18.473917°E

This was an AMC Adventure Travel trip that I was leading with Mike.

Trip Report: 1–18 November 2018

Part 3 in a series to prepare for the trip:

  1. Prospectus: description for potential participants, draft itinerary, & instructions to register.
  2. Guide: preparation details about cash, safety, visa, travel, contacts, communication, & lodging.
  3. Report of actual trip: this post.

Thank you African Bikers for patient, friendly, & helpful staff throughout the process.


In less than four weeks, I circumnavigated the earth stopping at these airports: HKG–YVR–YYZ–BOS–FRA–JNB–PLZ–CPT–ZRH–HKG.

Location: 49.1949652°N, 123.1820991°W

I was in Boston for one week on a business trip. Over the weekend, I celebrated 50 years of National Trails System with a 50 mile hike on New England Trail in Connecticut:

Trip to South Africa started on Wednesday evening 31 October 2018 from Boston overnight to Frankfurt. I had a full day to meet with my cousins who I had not seen since my last trip there in 2013:

On Thursday evening was another overnight flight to Johannesburg for a connection to final destination in Port Elizabeth.

The return trip from Cape Town started on Saturday morning 17 November, arriving in Hong Kong on Sunday afternoon. Connected in Zürich airport, with plenty of Swiss chocolate along the way:

Location: 33.950912°S, 25.459212°E


We started the trip right with a stop for perfectly crisp olive breadsticks at Île de Païn: thin mini baguettes full of aroma. It got even better: the chef offered a raspberry croissant because he “loves Boston”.

Location: 34.047814°S, 23.047347°E

I bought enough breadsticks for the group to enjoy on the bus ride from Knysna.

The electric mountain bicycles were the right choice. They allowed use to take many rugged gravel roads on comfortable full suspension frame & large tires. We struggled with repairing tubeless tires as the group was not familiar with them. Instead, we inserted a tube whenever we had a flat.

The battery lasted all day for the planned distances, giving us strong turbo boost up the hills & against headwind. Except on the day when Adam & I used two batteries.

We were right next to Swartberg pass: one of the most popular mountain passes in South Africa. But it was not on our itinerary due to rough road, steep climb, & long distance. Since we had exactly two spare batteries, the two of us took advantage of them. We woke up at 4:00 to start a steady climb of 1,300m for 37km:

We were hoping to reach the pass by sunrise. But we had to keep the battery on the lowest eco mode to last for the entire route. And it barely did for Adam. For me, it ran out about 5km before the finish. Then I had to slowly push the heavy bicycle with heavy battery & heavy motor. I earned the homemade fig jam that morning at Oue Werf Country House.

Fun play was on trails of Jonkershoek Nature Reserve. They were rough, tough, & steep. But the distance was short, so we had the batteries on turbo for the entire distance. The reward was gorgeous scenery:

Chapman’s Peak before a long descent to the beach on Hout Bay:

Location: 34.090633°S, 18.351362°E

We did not have to be in the mountains all the time. In fact, we spent plenty of time in the valleys, along farm lands:

Location: 33.859028°S, 22.448497°E

Jacaranda trees & flowers along the vineyard trail:

Location: 33.8801°S, 20.0082°E

Ostrich farms:

Protea, the national flower of South Africa:

Location: 34.319683°S, 18.452738°E

Every lodge we stayed at had a pool to dip in, especially on hot days after long bicycle rides. Or late evening dip in hot springs of Montagu:

My preference is for open water splash. We had an extended soak in Witte River in Tweede Tol park on climb to Bainskloofpas. The water temperature was cool & scenery relaxing:

Farewell splash was in big open ocean of Hout Bay:

Location: 34.047439°S, 18.360430°E

Route 62

Cape Route 62 is similar to the Mother Road US Route 66: an historical route that links small farming communities with the two harbour towns of Cape Town & Port Elizabeth. It was built in 1920s & lost its glory when the N2 Highway was built in 1950s.

Our first night on this route in Oudtshoorn, was a grand introduction to this route. Oue Werf Country House decorated the rooms with small lavender flowers on pillows, soap, towels, & toilet paper roll. Views were beautiful of the pond, orchard, & garden. Not to mention fig jam for breakfast.

Location: 33.478138°S, 22.242758°E

We discovered milk shake on this route between Oudtshoorn & Montagu. First stop was for peanut butter & Jack Daniel’s milk shake at Ronnie’s Sex Shop:

One was not enough: chilli chilli bang bang Belgian chocolate milk shake at Diesel & Crème. Just after apple hard cider at Makers Craft Brewery.

Location: 33.905972°S, 20.715572°E

Karoo Art was another special hotel: art on most fixtures, unique style for each room, delicious dinner, & local dance show:

Location: 33.904918°S, 20.719665°E

We continued to Montagu for Barn on 62 smoothie: Cape gooseberries, apricots, granadillas, coconut milk, almonds, & Greek yogurt:

Location: 33.7879°S, 20.1284°E

We stayed in Avalon Springs for two nights to rest in warm water. We hiked to town on a trail in Badkloof Gorge for a historical tour of Cape Dutch buildings: ornate gables, whitewashed walls, & thatched roof:

Location: 33.787103°S, 20.119889°E

Lunch was Portuguese bread with tomato chilli jam, pear & date chutney, & lemon chutney at The Rambling Rose:

Location: 33.789517°S, 20.118836°E

We returned again to Barn on 62 for affogato breakfast: sweet smooth vanilla ice cream drowned in hot roasty espresso:

Location: 33.788067°S, 20.128564°E

If all this dairy was not enough, we had feta cheese daily with salad: it was made Dutch style, not salty, creamy, & rich, unlike the salty crumbly Greek style. That, along with ostrich, lamb, & springbok meat, thwarted my plans to have vegan meals.

Wineries increased the further west we travelled. Just outside of Robertson, we stopped at Van Loveren vineyard for wine-chocolate pairing tasting. My favourite was dark mocha hazelnut paired with chocolate cabernet sauvignon. Tough choice over milk rose geranium white chocolate paired with rose petal moscato.

Another occasional drink was gin & tonic that I shared with Steve.

The trip brought hard apple cider to a whole new level, with almost daily doses at dinner & often at lunch:

Location: 34.196730°S, 18.375112°E

Route 62 Brewing Company had a different variation using strawberry pear cider:

Location: 33.787762°S, 20.119172°E


We enjoyed a slow start to the trip until all participants arrived Port Elizabeth. Some of them had to travel over 30 hours. Some arrived a day early on Friday 2 November to rest & tour around town.

We walked to Donkin Reserve overlooking the city & climbed the light house. The stone pyramid monument was erected by Sir Rufane Donkin in memory of his late wife, Elizabeth, after whom the city was named. Art decorated the park:

Location: 33.9620°S, 25.6205°E

Lunch was at Vovo Telo bakery: salad with slabs of creamy feta cheese & crunchy granola full of nuts.

We met our guide Hans on Sunday with bus & bicycle trailer for a tour of Addo National Park: kudu, cape buffalo, red hartebeest, warthog, & elephants:

That evening we prepared the bicycles for first ride next day: assigned bicycles, adjusted saddles, practiced with battery controls, inflated tires, replaced pedals, & inspected overall conditions.

Zuurberg Mountain Village prepared a generous buffet dinner of a huge variety. Power was out all day, so we ate & drank apple cider by candle light:

Location: 33.350883°S, 25.745639°E

Weather was sunny for most of the trip, except the first two days on the Garden Route were cold & rainy. Instead of bicycle to Tsitsikamma National Park in the rain, we opted for hike to Storm River suspension bridge:

With open views of the wild coast:

Location: 34.022072°S, 23.898742°E

There are several hiking options for multiple days along this coast.

We proceeded to bicycle daily after that until we reached Cape Town.

We visited Cango caves: natural wonder of limestone formations, stalactites, & stalagmites:

Location: 33.3923286°S, 22.2149103°E

Stellenbosch deserved an extended visited for the active scene, good wine, narrow streets, & historic buildings such as Moederkerk (Mother Church) with coloured glass, gothic style pulpit, & clock tower:

Location: 33.937767°S, 18.864120°E

On our last day, I woke up to a view of Table Mountain from room in Hollow Boutique hotel:

Location: 33.928167°S, 18.414945°E

I was on the look for these colourful huts that I had often scene in magazines & travel guides about the area. I searched. I asked. But found very little about their location. Then I found a hint about Muizenberg Beach, which was on our route to Cape of Good Hope. And there they were, in multiple locations. Beautiful just as I thought they would be:

Then we stopped at African penguin colony on Boulders Beach in Table Mountain National Park. Hundreds, probably thousands, of them, close by within reach:

Location: 34.196050°S, 18.450455°E

A sweeping view of Atlantic ocean was from Cape of Good Hope rocky head:

Location: 34.353950°S, 18.490253°E


Day Places Log
Wednesday 31 October 2018 17:30 BOS–FRA
Thursday 1 November 2018 FRA–JNB
Friday 2 November 2018
  • Dinner: La Kouzina
  • Room & breakfast: Brookes Hill Suites Hotel
  • Saturday 2 November 2018
  • Donkin Reserve
  • Lunch: Vovo Telo bakery
  • Dinner: Coachman on the Bay
  • Room & breakfast: Brookes Hill Suites Hotel.
  • Sunday 4 November 2018 8:43
  • Addo National Park
  • Room & board: Zuurberg Mountain Village.
  • Log data as recorded by Garmin Fēnix 5. Map from Garmin & Strava: download GPX, FIT, TCX, KML, & other file format for GPS track.
    ➡️ Distance 122.63km
    ⏩ Speed 14.6km/h
    🔄 Duration 8:24:56h:m:s
    ⬆️ Ascent 1,557m
    ⬇️ Descent 1,035m
    Monday 5 November 2018 13:10 Room & board: Tsitsikamma Village Inn Garmin, Suunto, & Strava.
    Tuesday 6 November 2018 9:41
  • Storm River suspension bridge
  • The Heads of Knysna
  • Apple hard cider at Mitchell’s Knysna Brewery
  • Dinner: The Drydock
  • Room & breakfast: Protea Hotel Knysna Quays
  • Hike: Garmin, Suunto, & Strava.

    Boat ride: Garmin & Suunto.

    Wednesday 7 November 2018 10:17
  • Montagu Pass
  • Room & board: Oue Werf Country House
  • Garmin, Suunto, & Strava.
    Thursday 8 November 2018 4:08
  • Swartberg pass.
  • Cango caves
  • Rust en Vrede waterfalls
  • Meiringspoort waterfalls
  • Room & board: Oue Werf Country House
  • Swartberg pass: Garmin, Suunto, & Strava.

    Meiringspoort waterfalls: Garmin, Suunto, & Strava.

    Friday 9 November 2018 10:25 Portwine Guest House: not recommended Garmin, Suunto, & Strava.
    Saturday 10 November 2018 10:26
  • Ronnie’s Sex Shop
  • Makers Craft Brewery
  • Diesel & Crème
  • Karoo Art Hotel
  • Garmin, Suunto, & Strava.
    Sunday 11 November 2018 8:52
  • Lunch: Barn on 62
  • Hot springs
  • Room & board: Avalon Springs Resort
  • Garmin, Suunto, & Strava.
    Monday 12 November 2018
  • Rest day
  • Historic tour
  • Lunch: Rambling Rose
  • Dinner: Ye Olde Tavern
  • Hot springs
  • Room & board: Avalon Springs Resort
  • Tuesday 13 November 2018 8:56
  • Breakfast: Barn on 62
  • Van Loveren vineyard
  • Room & board: Gubas De Hoek Guest House
  • Garmin, Suunto, & Strava.
    Wednesday 14 November 2018 10:38
  • Tweede Tol park
  • Bainskloofpas
  • Diemersfontein Country Estate
  • Garmin, Suunto, & Strava.
    Thursday 15 November 2018 13:32
  • Stellenbosch
  • Jonkershoek Nature Reserve
  • Dinner: Africa Café
  • Room & breakfast: Cape Town Hollow Boutique Hotel
  • Garmin, Suunto, & Strava.
    Friday 16 November 2018 12:40
  • Muizenberg Beach
  • Boulders Beach
  • Cape of Good Hope
  • The Hub Café
  • Chapman’s Peak
  • Hout Bay
  • Dinner: Hussar Grill in Mouille Point
  • Room & breakfast: Cape Town Hollow Boutique Hotel
  • Garmin, Suunto, & Strava.

    New England Trail Hike 50 Challenge

    Hike Report: 27–28 October 2018

    The things I do for a patch!

    The things I do for a patch of New England Trail 50 mile challenge

    When my friend Barbara first told me about this challenge in March 2018, I was intrigued. When I learned about the patch reward, then I was committed: hike 50 miles to celebrate 50 years of National Trails System.

    The trail was scenic, well signed, & trimmed:

    Scenic, signed, & trimmed trail
    Location: 41.5444°N, 72.6030°W

    The New England National Scenic Trail is a 215-mile hiking trail route that has been in existence for over half a century. The NET travels through 41 communities in Connecticut and Massachusetts, and is comprised primarily of the historic Mattabesett, Metacomet, & Monadnock (M-M-M) Trail systems.


    I ran out of time before my travel to Hong Kong in spring & summer. Then in October, I had a trip for one week in Boston, including a weekend.

    “It was in my heart to help a little because I was helped much”

    Kahlil Gibran plaque in front of Boston Public Library
    “It was in my heart to help a little because I was helped much”
    Location: 42.3497°N, 71.0769°W

    That was my chance. Hike the 50 miles rain or shine. My choice was for Connecticut:

    • Weather resistant: none of the peaks was too high to be too cold in October.
    • Fast terrain: run & walk fast in low elevation profile relative to remaining sections.
    • Beach access: finish in Guilford on Long Island Sound for a dip in the salty water.

    I drove Friday afternoon to avoid traffic leaving Boston, pack, rest, & sleep early for a long hike next day.


    The weather forecast for Saturday was getting worse by the hour. I adjusted the trail to start in Middletown going southwest to Guilford, which meant the strong wind & rain were at my back.

    Beth, the innkeeper, prepared basic breakfast of cake, orange juice, apple butter, & granola to fuel the hike. Then I ordered a taxi to trailhead in Middletown:

    Nor’easter rain storm: shivers, cold, & tears
    Location 41.553895ºN, 72.58236ºW

    I started slow to adjust layers multiple times to keep dry from the rain, but not too hot to sweat. I finally settled on the rain jacket as my only top layer, with shorts & rain pants for bottom layers.

    Trail blazes were frequent, ground was clear from rocks & roots, & navigation was quick. I picked up the pace with occasional stop to read map or validate location.

    I had two food stops in mind. The first at 16km: Deb’s Restaurant, 40 Saybrook Rd, Higganum, CT 06441, which I skipped. Breakfast was keeping me going, & I had extra food in my backpack. The second stop was at 34km: Krauszer’s Food Store, 459 Madison Rd, Durham, CT 06422. By then, I was cold, hungry, & shivering. I stopped there to eat & change layers: gloves, shirt, & hat. That shop owner was not very welcoming or pleased with my extra stay.

    The trail here had been diverted from the published paper map to avoid walking on road. Instead, I just followed the trail signs. Then the sun set & got completely dark. No trouble though navigating with a headlight all the back to my room.


    This was going to be a great day: dry weather, cool temperature, flat terrain, mostly downhill, all the way to the beach for a splash in Long Island Sound:

    Location 41.2685170ºN, 72.667482ºW

    The trail was still high quality & easy to navigate. Even without any major elevation, the scenery was still beautiful through small hills & open meadows.

    The final 5km were on the road through quaint town of Guildford: town green, shopping, plenty of restaurant options, & train station.


    After a quick frigid dip, I put on try clothes, took a taxi back to my room, & drove to It’s Only Natural restaurant in Middletown for sweet potato fries:

    Sweet potato fries at It’s Only Natural après hike
    Location: 41.5642°N, 72.6518°W

    I returned to Boston for work until Wednesday night. Then took long flight BOS–FRA–JNB–PTE to start an AMC bicycle tour:

    Swartberg pass: most important meal of the day. Bicycle climb before breakfast.

    Route Log

    Lodging was at an Airbnb property directly on the trail for easy access on both days.

    Saturday 27 October 2018 9:27Map from Garmin, Suunto, & Strava: download GPX, FIT, TCX, KML, & other file format for GPS track.
    Log data as recorded by Garmin Fēnix 5: ➡️ distance 49.13km, 🔄 duration 10:01’30, ⏩ pace 12’15, ⬆️ ascent 1,822m, ⬇️ descent 1,678m, *️⃣ calories 3,787, 📶 temperature 8.6℃
    Sunday 7:48Garmin, Suunto, & Strava: ➡️28.97km, 🔄5:24’50, ⏩11’12, ⬆️487m, ⬇️576m, *️⃣1,601, 📶8.5℃
    Total➡️78.10km, 🔄15:26’20, ⏩11’52, ⬆️2,309m, ⬇️2,254m, *️⃣5,388, 📶8.6℃

    Packing List

    • Running vest: Arc’teryx Norvan 14. Carry water, clothing layers, food, phone, & other accessories. It was very comfortable & stable, with plenty of accessible pockets in front to use while on the run. The vest does not have a good pocket to carry poles, but that did not matter on this hike, since I did not have poles.
      • Water bladder, 2l inside hydration vest, sufficient on cold day.
      • Electrolyte pills: Hammer Nutrition Endurolytes. Consumed close to 10 capsules, helped to recover electrolytes throughout the day. I carry them in small container.
      • Headlight: Black Diamond Storm. Long lasting on four AAA batteries, waterproof, used for the last two hours in the dark.
      • Shell jacket for rain & wind: Arc’teryx Norvan. Used it all of first day to protect from rain & cold. At first, I did not have anything underneath it, until late in afternoon when it got cold, I added a shirt.
      • Shell pants for rain & wind: Arc’teryx Beta. Used it all of first day to protect from rain & cold. Wore running shorts underneath.
      • Phone, ID, & credit card in vest pockets. Luckily, the iPhone 7 was waterproof in the rain on first day.
      • Whistle
      • Temperature sensor: Garmin Tempe. Measures the temperature away from ambient heat, sun light, or other factors. I clipped it to a vest strap.
    • Me
      • Trail running shoes, Salomon.
      • Waterproof socks: Sealskins. Would not have completed this trip without them. My feet stayed warm the entire day. I used them both days, even when it was not raining, because the ground was still wet. Dry warm feet were guaranteed.
      • Toe socks: Injinji Ultra Run No-Show Socks. Wore under waterproof socks to reduce friction & blisters.
      • Sunglasses: Julbo.
      • Gloves, waterproof, two pairs. Changed half way during the first day into a dry pair.
      • GPS watch
      • Heart rate monitor: Wahoo Tickr. Broadcasts in both Bluetooth & ANT+ to work with multiple GPS devices.
    • Missed: bandana. The one item I missed having was some cotton cloth to dry the phone screen with. In the rain, it was impossible to handle a wet touch screen. I had nothing to dry it off with. Everything was soaked.
    • Home: I decided leave a few items behind on purpose to stay light given current conditions.
      • Poles: terrain was comfortable with many rolling hills, but no steep mountains or rocky steps.
      • USB battery: this was a risk. I never want to run out of battery. I should have brought at least a small USB battery for phone emergency. Instead, I kept the phone on airplane & low battery modes all day.
      • Sun hat: forecast was for rain & clouds. Used a hoodie instead for warmth.
    • Snacks: I had a collection that I ate throughout the weekend.

    Lamma Island

    Day Trip Report 30 September 2018

    Family friendly tour, savoury food choices, comfortable trails, varied scenic stops, & a rest in the shade of Balcony Rock:

    Balcony Rock
    Location 22.195388ºN, 114.137633ºE

    Trip worth repeating for a run along the same trail, especially when it can end with lamb kebab & falafel for dinner at Best Kebab:

    Lamb kebab on Lamma island
    Location 22.225221ºN, 114.112093ºE

    There were two ferry options from Hong Kong Central station: Yung Shue Wan every 20–30 minutes & Sok Kwu Wan every 90–120 minutes. We took the infrequent ferry because we can control our departure. By the time we finished, we could return on the frequency ferry without waiting long.

    Location 22.226903ºN, 114.110161ºE

    The island welcomed visitors with maps, signs, & easy to follow directions:

    Friendly trails, beaches, & restaurants of Lamma Island
    Location 22.206113ºN, 114.131561ºE

    Turning left from ferry, we walked east along the coast to Mo Tat Wan beach:

    Coast path
    Location 22.208262ºN, 114.135947ºE

    Mo Tat village of few houses was nearby:

    Mo Tat village & beach on Lamma island
    Location 22.204942ºN, 114.145928ºE

    On the south side was Yung Shue Ha beach. Trail was battered by recent Super Typhoon Mangkhut. Big slabs of concrete were turned over or broken. It was also out of the way for many visitors:

    Yung Shue Ha beach south of Lamma island
    Location 22.199175ºN, 114.140647ºE

    Climb started from Tung O village on stairs, as often is the case in Hong Kong, before we were treated to a view of South China sea from gazebo on ridge:

    Climb from Tung O village to view South China sea from Lamma island
    Location 22.197670ºN, 114.134347ºE

    Sok Kwu Wan was within reach now, just down the hill. Feeling hungry, we ran down the stairs & trail to close the loop near the ferry terminal where we started earlier that morning. Rainbow restaurant had many choices, quick service, & direct view of the sea:

    Seafood for lunch at Rainbow restaurant
    Location 22.204438ºN, 114.130669ºE

    This first loop through lunch was:

    • ➡️ distance 6.62km
    • 🔄 duration 2:46’49.2
    • ⏩ pace 25’11
    • ⬆️ ascent 210m
    • ⬇️ descent 213m

    On the edge of town was Tin Hau temple. There are plenty of them around Hong Kong, in just about every neighbourhood. Some are small, others quite elaborate. It was here that I learned about Tin Hau, the Goddess of the Sea. Local fishermen pray to her for safety and fruitful returns before setting out to fish:

    Local fishermen pray to Tin Hau, the Goddess of the Sea, for safety and fruitful returns before setting out to fish
    Location 22.204503ºN, 114.130692ºE

    Family trail for the length of Lamma island was well maintained, clean, & heavily used:

    Family trail for the length of Lamma island: well maintained, clean, & heavily used
    Location 22.209125ºN, 114.124261ºE

    It connected the two main towns: Sok Kwu Wan to Yung Shue Wan:

    • ➡️ distance 6.59km
    • 🔄 duration 2:03’12.5
    • ⏩ pace 18’42
    • ⬆️ ascent 108m
    • ⬇️ descent 93m

    Walking through alleys of Lo So Shing village

    Alleys of Lo So Shing village
    Location 22.2052ºN, 114.1252ºE

    There were small rolling hills, floating rafts for fish farms, three chimneys of power plant, & fruit popsicles stop.

    Until we reached the sandy beach on Hung Shing Ye bay: clear water, tree shades, & mountain views. The area was crowded with sun bathers, shops, restaurants, & swimmers.

    Sandy beach, warm day, & mountain view on Hung Shing Ye bay on Lamma island
    Location 22.219120ºN, 114.119294ºE

    It was a sign that we were getting closer to our destination Yung Shue Wan. Plenty of ideas to explore: temple, book shop, art galleries, health stores, & many choices of restaurants.

    Car free Lamma island is bicycle rich—unusual scene in Hong Kong.

    Car free bicycle rich Lamma island
    Location 22.226795ºN, 114.109658ºE

    Route Log

    Log data as recorded by Suunto Spartan. Map from Suunto, & Strava.

    • ➡️ distance 13.21km
    • 🔄 duration 4:50’01.7
    • ⏩ pace 21’57
    • ⬆️ ascent 283m
    • ⬇️ descent 271m
    • *️⃣ calories 949